Teen Starlet “Shakes It Up”!
By Rych McCain, International/Nationally Syndicated Entertainment Columnist
|Zendaya (Photo by Keith Munyan)|
She is a bundle of positive energy that comes packaged in a winning personality with multiple talents, adorable cutie-pie looks and a name that means “To give thanks” in the language of the South African Shona people. We’re talking about sixteen year old actress/dancer/singer Zendaya Coleman, professionally known as Zendaya. She is a cast regular playing the role of Raquel “Rocky” Blue on the #1 rated Disney Channel Show “Shake It Up” which is now in its second season. Zendaya has been in showbiz most of her life starting off at age six training with the California Shakespeare Theatre’s student conservatory program. Her mom was the Theatre’s house manager. This was followed with further training as a student at the Oakland School For The Arts and even more follow-up training at the CalShakes Conservatory Program and the American Conservatory Theatre. Between all of these schools Zendaya had lead roles in many stage plays.
Zendaya’s professional career began as a child model for Macy’s, Mervyns, Old Navy and others. From there she transitioned into dancing where she became a member of the Oakland dance troop “Future Shock” as well as hula dancing for AHA (Academy of Hawaiian Arts). She did an iCarly Toys ad and was a back up dancer to fellow Disney star Selena Gomez for a Sears commercial. Then came her big break i.e., the role of Raquel “Rocky” Blue on “Shake It Up.” Zendaya’s name and physical bi-racial looks (Black dad & Dutch Mom) is something she has had to deal with all of her life but she is positively upbeat about it saying, “Most definitely, I have gotten that since I was very little. I have a racially ambiguous look and on top of that my name is really interesting. Nobody’s has ever heard it before. They don’t know how to say it or they ask me where it comes from. I mean its cool finding that people are interested in who I am.”
How does Zendaya relate to her on-camera character “Rocky”? She smiles and quips, “She’s the shy quite one who’s always trying to look out for her friends. She’ll always be there for them no matter what because she’s the sharp one. Yeah, she’s just a great person and I’m a lot like her in real life and I love playing her character.” Since this is a dance orientated show and she is a principal dancer is her role very physically demanding? Zendaya comes back, “You know what, being on the show period is physically demanding just because it’s a dance show. And so we’re always dancing and always moving around having fun so you know of course, naturally I’m just going to get sore from that. Also there is a lot of physical comedy involved in our show because it is a comedy. So we have so many physical comedy bits in our show and its fun. I like it. I don’t really mind the soreness out there.”
A television sitcom usually takes one week per episode with each day doing something different until it is taped. What is Zendaya’s favorite part of the entire production process? She lights up, “My favorite part of the process is definitely “2-a-days” which is our live taping days because we get to meet our fans. We get to have a live audience and that kind of brings me back to the stage which is where I started in theatre. It’s a nice home ground to be able to feed off the audience’s energy.” How does Zendaya stay grounded in such a crazy business with the negative peer pressure and all that comes with it? She humbly says, “I surround myself with positive people that really know who I am and has always been around me, no matter what and has been with me forever. So I surround myself with people I know love me and care for me weather I have the show or not. Those are the people that are always going to be there.”
Rych McCain Media/Syndication tm
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